Ex-Cons, Judges, And Corrupt Politicians
- View SourceJ.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California August 9, 2002
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Ex-Cons, Judges,And Corrupt PoliticiansAt a time when the judiciary nationwide is struggling to improve its tarnished and downtrodden public image, along comes the account of Judge Bodenheimer, who has done the judiciary no great service in this regard with his underworld business dealings. -Ron Branson
Tough Judge Shocks New Orleans With His Own Indictment
Ex-Prosecutor Faces Federal Drug Charge
By Adam Nossiter
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, August 6, 2002; Page A03
NEW ORLEANS -- A man was annoying Judge Ronnie Bodenheimer, getting in the way of a little business deal. "Aggravate the little [expletive] as much as you can," the judge told a flunky.
It didn't work. Something harsher was needed. Judge Bodenheimer,
tough-guy dispenser of justice in the white-flight suburbs, pronounced the pipsqueak's downfall: "You know, this boy, you know, the sad part, he ain't got a shot, he ain't got a chance." And then the judge signed off on a plan, beautifully simple, that inscribes a new chapter in the annals of Louisiana sleaze, according to a federal indictment: plant illegal drugs in the man's pickup truck, then have him arrested.
"You know, he ain't gonna know what's hit him," chuckled Bodenheimer, a son of the rough-edged 9th Ward of New Orleans, according to transcripts of an FBI wiretap of his phone.
It is a fresh season for scandal in America's regional corruption capital (there were more public corruption indictments and convictions in Louisiana in 2000 than in any other state, according to the FBI), and this year's harvest is shaping up to be ample. At city hall, the New Orleans police, in a strange role reversal, were rounding up municipal employees last month on suspicions of bribery -- a refreshing change for citizens used to seeing police officers themselves led away in handcuffs. The
new mayor, Ray Nagin, wants the police to interview the old mayor, Marc Morial, about what he knew, and when.
And just across the Mississippi River in suburban Jefferson Parish, federal agents have been listening in on the conversations of local judges, even planting video cameras in their chambers. They are apparently hoping to find evidence of unsavory relations between a local bail bond king and judges, several former district attorneys, a New Orleans city councilman and others, judging from a subpoena sent recently to the bondsman, Louis Marcotte III.But along the way, the agents caught a glimpse of the hidden life of one of the area's best-known magistrates, and it led straight to his indictment July 17 on drug conspiracy charges.
Nobody would have claimed the New Orleans judiciary as a bastion of
propriety. Last year one local judge bloodied another in a furious punchout at the courthouse; recently another judge was censured for hiring her mother as clerk and losing dozens of trial transcripts, leading to reversals in murder cases.
But the indictment of Bodenheimer is a shocker. A hard-headed former
prosecutor from a working-class neighborhood, he took no prisoners, ... and enjoyed sending men to death row.
"He was a great prosecutor, and in fact he was a hero of our organization," said Sanford Krasnoff, head of a local crime-victims league. "When Ronnie was prosecuting, he used to carry himself with an
air, he was as good a prosecutor as anybody in the country."
The prosecutor-turned-district judge ruled his courtroom in the seedy
cinder block suburban courthouse with an iron hand. Last November, he handed out the longest sentence in parish history, 881 years, to an armed robber. "He was always very harsh in sentencing, very little compassion," said Sam Dalton, a local lawyer who has known Bodenheimer for decades. "Which, I imagine, he's gonna have second
thoughts about, right about now."
At the federal courthouse in New Orleans on July 24 for his arraignment,
Bodenheimer seemed to be on the wrong side of the dock. He reminisced about bad guys he had put behind bars and smiled at
ex-colleagues in the hall. His attorney nervously shooed away reporters,
but the judge arched bushy eyebrows and flashed a smile. Dressed in a well-cut tan-colored suit and shiny black wingtips, Bodenheimer pleaded not guilty in his broadly confident 9th Ward accent.
Miles away from the courtroom, the straight-arrow judge had a penchant
for hanging out with characters at the edge of the law. Beyond his old neighborhood, to the east, the city gives way to swamp and an indistinct region of marshland and marginal fishermen. These watery precincts, a
favorite fishing ground when the judge was a boy, were the backdrop for
the putative drug setup that has landed him in federal court.
Years before, the judge had gone into business with a bunch of ex-cons
-- shrimpers and fishermen with drug, firearms and sex-offense convictions -- and bought himself a small marina at New Orleans's
extreme eastern edge. ....© 2002 The Washington Post CompanyThe truth is, since the judiciary of this nation is called upon to police itself, a system that has consistently proved unworkable, it is inevitable that the public image of the judiciary shall sink lower and lower until in takes on the public perception of that of con men and politicians, the later of which has been documented to be at the level of used car salesmen.At all levels everywhere throughout society, there is an undistinguished cry for Judicial Accountability Initiative Law. Until J.A.I.L. actually becomes the law of this land, there will be no change in the direction of America's decent. J.A.I.L. is America's Only answer!
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